How Papa John’s Takes a Slice Out of Advertising


At Performance Marketing Insights’ Sri Sharma, CEO of Net Media Planet, sat down with Papa John’s Senior Director of Marketing, Andrew Gallagher, for a Fireside Chat to delve into some of the challenges facing the marketing industry today. The conversation was a candid look into how Papa John’s is gaining market share against pizza giants such as Dominos and Pizza Hut through a clever marketing strategy.



Gallagher talked about the intricacies of the pizza sector and its competition. For starters, the pizza industry is worth £2 billion a year, and half of that business is done by independent pizza shops. The three main players are Dominos, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, with Dominos dominating the sector. What’s interesting about these three companies is that they are all franchises, and for Papa John’s that means that their marketing budget is supplied to them by their franchised stores. That fact paired with the industry being notoriously driven by impulse and discounts has greatly determined how and where Papa John’s spend their marketing budget.


For Papa John’s, whose yearly marketing budget is limited compared to their competition, their overall marketing strategy is what Gallagher calls “smart spending.” With fewer store fronts than both Dominos and Pizza Hut their leaflets act as their shop window encouraging those impulse purchases. To maximise the effect of their leaflets, distribution was targeted to postcodes who were most likely to purchase. Their radio and television ads are aired on specific times of the day and days of the week, while PPC campaigns are run in a similar manner. All of these strategies are used to have the maximum effect on the most relevant audience, in other words “smart spending.”


All of these targeting strategies come back to “knowing your audience.” Gallagher expresses this as one of the most fundamental marketing requirements for increasing market share. He asserts that marketers must first define their audience and then communicate with them in a relevant way through the channels that they use. Gallagher suggests using “less of the spray and pray approach” and more focused relevant targeting.


Papa John’s ran a PPC campaign with Net Media Planet that emphasised the quality of the product, differing from the everyday discount and offers messaging that would normally run. This campaign focused on the product characteristics that would entice users to purchase, with messages of how cheesy and tasty the pizzas are. It was extremely successful because it focused on exciting the impulses of the consumer and what makes them desire pizza.


Sharma says, “For me it’s all about thinking outside the box, being dynamic in how you are doing things, using data to give a personal experience to your customer and building a great product.”



Sharma went on to discuss a great example of using data effectively. With the insights collected from Papa John’s PPC campaign, Papa John’s was able to determine the best locations for new stores. The data revealed locations with high volumes of Papa John’s search queries and when compared to current store locations could determine possible future locations with a higher return on investment.


Gallagher wrapped up his time on the PMI stage by reiterating how important knowing your customer is and that you need to be dynamic in the ever changing advertising environment. In closing, Sharma complimented his statement, adding that marketers need to learn how to use their data effectively to make better decisions in their marketing strategies.


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